CSL Daily

November 26, 2014

Faculty Forum- Don’t Show Up Empty-Handed

by Greg Burton

This Thanksgiving, my family will be spending the day with Dr. Dwyer’s family. Neither of us is heading out of town this year so, they invited us to their house. The Dwyer’s take the Turkey Day spread to a new level so I can’t wait to feast.  Burton

Before we leave our house to head over on Thursday, I’ll hear my mother’s voice. I hear it every time we’re invited to someone’s house for a party or get-together. Her message was simple but firm: “Don’t show up empty handed.”

My mom says, “It’s the Italian way,” but there are many cultures who believe in the gesture even when the hosts insist on no gifts or present. For a time, I didn’t buy it.

I would always ask the host, “What can I bring?” They would respond with something like, “Just bring your appetite,” and I would show up, have a great time, and thank them at the end of the evening. I rationalized that if the hosts didn’t want us to bring anything then I should obey their wish. They would have plenty of food and drinks and they surely don’t need another chotchkie to clutter up their home.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. It dawned on my one night after a friend’s party when they host was truly touched by a small gift left by one of the guests. It probably cost less than five bucks but, by the look on the host’s face, you would have thought it was a diamond ring.

We all want to feel appreciated. At home or at work, we want our actions and deeds recognized. We are not in it for the accolades or gratitude but the acknowledgement may be why we continue to do it. The byproduct of appreciation is its ability to empower people.

Appreciation is not one of the core values of the Center for Sport Leadership but empowering is. Each time we express our appreciation to someone we are empowering them. We empower them to continue to deliberately act in an impactful way. It may empower someone to continue their generosity. It may empower someone at work to set and achieve new goals. It may empower someone to stay on a positive path towards a fuller life.

All of this isn’t to suggest that you start buying gifts to express your appreciation. A small token of gratitude like a gift card is a wonderful gesture. However,

I truly believe the two most valuable gifts you have to offer are your time and your word. Take them for a cup of coffee or lunch and express your gratitude for their assistance or a job well done. However you choose to express your appreciation, please know it will empower the recipient to continue their kindness, their hard work, their positive path.

I won’t show up empty-handed at the Dwyer’s for Thanksgiving. You should never be empty-handed when it comes to an opportunity to express your appreciation, for that appreciation will empower more good to come.
My mom was right again.


November 25, 2014

Project Thank You

At the Center for Sport Leadership, we believe appreciation is one of the most important traits a leader can possess and exhibit. Before our students left for Thanksgiving break, we asked them to think about one person who helped them on their journey. Chances are there are many people in each of their lives who have made a positive impact. Success is never singular. With that in mind, we created this video to remind our students and everyone in the CSL family that we should take every opportunity to show our appreciation to the people who believe in us, guide us and inspire us.

November 25, 2014

Alumni Profile- Kevin Dwan

by Dru Henderson, CSL graduate student

Kevin Dwan learned early in his career about the importance of the company you keep. “Surround yourself with people who will help you.”  As Regional Vice President with The Aspire Group, Dwan, a 2006 CSL alumnus, stresses the importance others have played in his own career advancement.  KevinDwanPicture2

As an undergrad, Dwan played baseball and majored in Psychology at Lynchburg College. After graduation, he was not ready to give up sports.  His girlfriend at the time, now wife, was a Center for Sport Leadership alumnus. She originally sparked his interest in the program and was a major factor in recruiting him to VCU.

During his time in the program, Dwan learned about opportunities in sport he never knew existed. He ultimately landed an internship in the Marketing and Ticketing Department at the University of Richmond. His experience with that internship led to a full-time job as Assistant Director of Ticket Operations with Wichita State University.

“It wasn’t easy to move to Wichita but taking that job was one of the best career choices I made.”

After a little more than a year, he left WSU to return to the University of Richmond as Director of Marketing and Sales. After three years at UR, an offer came from his current employer. The Aspire Group is an organization that provides strategic consulting and researching, revenue enhancement, and asset investment to its clients. Dwan was hired as the Director of Sales and Service for Army Athletics in West Point, New York. Army is one of The Aspire Group’s clients

Recently, Kevin was promoted to his current role where he oversees eight schools: Army, Seton Hall, Minnesota, Western Michigan, Miami (OH), UC-Riverside, Florida Atlantic and Florida International. He works with the colleges and university athletic departments to implement strategy structure, conduct consulting research, and assist with marketing and ticket sales.

Although he has enjoyed where his career path, Dwan says the decisions he made along the way were not always easy ones. He was engaged before he was employed full-time. “Every career move involved packing up and moving to another state as a family. Without the sacrifices from my family, none of it would be possible.”  KevinDwanPicture1

The Center for Sport Leadership is what started it all for Kevin. He describes the experience as “eye-opening”. Although he is eight years removed from the program, he still actively practices lessons that he learned in class. Dwan also uses the network he developed from the first day he set foot on campus.

“Developing a network cannot be underestimated. Early in your career, it is important to focus on who you are working with rather than what you are working on.”

Dwan does have some long-term goals in mind. He would love the opportunity to work as a collegiate athletic director. He has also been exposed to professional sports, and sees that as an option. Specifically, he would love the opportunity to serve as a Senior Executive focused on creating strategies to drive revenue. He works towards those goals every day and remains confident those opportunities will present themselves as long as he stays true to the path that got him to where he is.

November 19, 2014

Faculty Forum- You Belong at the Table

by Carrie LeCrom, Ph.D.

Have you ever arrived at a meeting or an event and thought you were way out of your carrieleague? Thoughts like, “What am I doing here?” or “Why was I invited to this?” keep running through your mind? Those of you who can’t relate to this are probably lying to yourselves (time for a reality check). We’ve all been there, and it’s not a great feeling. I experienced it just a few short weeks ago. Let me set the stage for you:

The Center for Sport Leadership was recently awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of State. The grant will help us advance our work in the area of sport for development, an area that has grown near and dear to my heart. Sport for development, broadly, is the intentional use of sport to elicit social change. Our project will focus on encouraging 14-18 year olds in South Africa to stay in school. As one of eight grantees awarded funding through the State Department’s SportsUnited program this year, I was invited to Washington, D.C. for a planning session. I was thrilled! Then, I saw a the list of the seven other grantees.

I was surrounded by some of the most significant players in the world of sport for development: Peace Players International, streetfootballworld,  Cal Ripken Senior Foundation. This is the point at which my excitement for the meeting (which remained high), was somewhat tempered by a wave of apprehension and doubt. I knew we had submitted a terrific proposal and that our project was great, but I wondered how well we fit among these other superstars.

Hence, I arrived at the meeting proud of what we had to contribute, but also a little intimidated by the others who would be at the table. We were the only University that had been awarded funding. Every other organization was in the business of sport for development full time. I learned long ago that in situations like this, the best strategy to employ is ‘fake it until you make it.’

Luckily, it didn’t take me long to realize that the Center for Sport Leadership at VCU did very much belong at that table. We were the only representative from higher education and we are honored to represent that group.  This is the third time we have been the recipient of a grant from the State Department’s SportsUnited program.  Only two other groups were past recipients. I also realized that almost every other person in that room thought their organization or project was ‘different’ for one reason or another, and we all felt apprehensive about that.  CSL-Quotes-Twitter (2)

While I’m proud to tell you that I now know we belong, the larger message here is about confidence. It’s not about size. It’s not about age. It’s about what’s inside you. Everyone is different, but everyone has something special to contribute. Be your authentic self. If you look back over the situation I described above, it wasn’t until I started comparing myself to others that the doubt crept in. And while it’d be really easy to simply say, ‘don’t compare yourself to others,’ that’s not realistic for everyone. The entire world of sport is about comparisons, mostly between winners and losers.  The next time you start to doubt yourself or your confidence wanes, remember that your uniqueness is what makes you special, and often times, that’s what makes you a winner. You belong at the table.  Now, make sure everyone else knows too!

Dr. Carrie LeCrom is the executive director of the Center for Sport Leadership at VCU.  She can be reached by email at 
Follow her on Twitter at @cwlecrom


November 18, 2014

Alumni Profile-Liz Igo LeRose

by Jenna Taylor, CSL graduate student

Elizabeth Igo LeRose can’t emphasize enough how every experience she gained throughout her career has helped lead her to where she is today.  A 2004 graduate of the Center for Sport Leadership at VCU, LeRose is the current Associate Athletics Director and Senior Women’s Administrator at Washing and Lee University.  LeRose Head Shot

“My experience at the Center for Sport Leadership was really invaluable.  The hands on nature of the classes were relevant and informative to the landscape of college and professional athletics and really helped shape my career in college athletics today.”

Upon graduation from the CSL program, Elizabeth took a break from college athletics and worked with the American Heart Association as an event planner for a golf tournament and walk-a-thon.  Realizing how much she missed college athletics, she returned to the scene and took a position as Director of Ticketing at Virginia Military Institute where she was able to gain a variety of experiences in college athletics.  During her 9-year career at VMI she moved up in the ranks first to Assistant Athletic Director and then Senior Women’s Administrator.  When presented with the opportunity this summer to take her current position at Washington and Lee, her alma mater, she couldn’t pass it up.

It’s a good thing Liz was able to gain so much experience along the way because at Washington and Lee, she has many responsibilities.  She oversees game management, facilities and serves as point person for marketing and promotions. Liz also coordinates bids and NCAA hosting opportunities, helps track compliance, Student-Athlete eligibility and transfers, and is the liaison between athletics and the rest of the university.


A former basketball player at W & L, Liz Igo LeRose has returned to her alam mater as the Senior Women’s Administrator for Atheltics.

When asked what her long-term goals are, Liz deftly deflected the question right back to her alma mater.  “Right now, I want to help the Washington & Lee coaches and Student-Athletes work toward winning national championships.”  Eventually, she would like to become more involved in working with NCAA committees.  She believes that experience would help put her in the position to take that next step of becoming an Athletic Director. Liz clearly practices what she preaches to young people wanted to work in athletics.

“Learn as much of the business as you can.  Sit in on meetings when you don’t need to and ask questions.  Talk to coaches, sports information staff, sports medicine, marketing, and ticket staff etc. to get their take on different issues or topics.  Learning about all of the different areas under the big umbrella will help you in the future when you are moving up in the ranks and gives you more credibility because you have been there and experienced it.”

There’s that word again: experience.  Liz was able to move up in the ranks by gaining the necessary experience and seizing every opportunity available to her.  She is able to successfully manage and complete her day-to-day duties because she took the time to learn about every facet of college athletics.  Liz will continue to do whatever she can to learn and experience new things necessary to increase her depth of knowledge so that she may be able to continue to overcome any challenges put in her path.  As she puts it, “Ultimately, it’s about the Student-Athletes and helping them have the best college experience.”


November 13, 2014

Faculty Forum-Professional Development For the Authentic Leader

by Brendan Dwyer, Ph.D.  dwyer

We all have strengths. Unfortunately, we also have weaknesses. Fear not. These characteristics and differences are important; they are what make us unique, distinct, and valuable. However, they can also limit our growth or pigeonhole us into positions for years.

Common sense dictates we operate on a day-to-day basis emphasizing our strengths and hiding our weaknesses. This is human nature. In fact, with age, we become much more aware of our limitations and not only learn to work around them, but also actually accept them for what they are.

This may be how we operate daily, but it raises a difficult question when we embark upon professional development opportunities. Should we embrace professional development that enhances our strengths or activities that rectify our weaknesses?

There are schools of thought to support both notions. For instance, Strengths Finder, a psychological assessment created by Gallup, suggests that one should NOT fixate on weaknesses, but instead work solely on building upon one’s strengths.

Byham however, proposes that a strength-only focus is not enough. He asserts that among other things, it overburdens colleagues and can limit one’s growth potential. In addition, he believes through sound training programs and measureable intermediate goals, even the most daunting weaknesses can be overcome.

So, which method do you prefer? How do you select your professional development activities? We are all constrained by time and money; thus, these decisions are important, and I am not convinced either approach is supremely correct or incorrect.

As a result, I would argue they are not mutually exclusive, and personally, I would probably lean to a more balanced approach of tackling both methods. I am not convinced that even the most brightly shining strength can overcome all weaknesses. Yet, I think it is important to be authentic. As mentioned above, strengths are often the attributes that set us apart and make us distinctive. Thus, it is important to be true to who you are. Authenticity is a core value at the CSL, and I would argue it is an essential function for effective leaders. Don’t get me wrong: the spirit to embrace change is important. It feeds and supports ambition, hope, and drive. For a young professional, it often provides the sole inspiration needed to endure 60-hour workweeks for little pay or recognition. strengths

However, authenticity is durable. Authentic leaders have legs. They are consistent. They survive economic downturns and losing seasons because they earned a leadership role by being themselves. Therefore, authentic leaders provide the steady rudder needed to navigate rough seas.

Coincidentally, authenticity for me is balance. That is why I would choose to use professional development to moderately impact both my strengths and weaknesses. Balance is how I keep my ship on course. However, I know plenty of highly successful individuals that argue the road to success is an unbalanced ride. With that, I am confident that a balance approach is not the answer for everyone. Therefore, I urge you to look within when planning professional development activities. Go with your gut, and trust your intuition. Professional development should be slightly uncomfortable and definitely challenging, but it should fit within a larger plan that emphasizes your authenticity as a professional.